Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Apple UI design has jumped the shark

Take a look at this screen shot of the App Store app while upgrading from Yosemite to El Capitan:

Click on the image to see it full-size.  Question: how much time before the El Cap upgrade finishes downloading?  Here's a hint:

It's awesome that Apple builds computers that are beautiful to look at.  And they are.  I mean, just look at that panorama of the Yosemite valley.  It's gorgeous.  But one of the reasons it's gorgeous is that it has become largely unencumbered by actual utility.  The one thing I really want to know when I'm looking at that particular screen is how much longer am I going to have to wait for this operation to finish.  Should I hang out, or do I have time to go get a cup of coffee and write a blog post?

Apple's UI is full of this sort of thing nowadays: text that is so light a shade of grey that it's illegible.  Hidden control that don't appear unless you hover over them, often without the slightest hint that there is anything of interest there.  Just vast expanses of the perfect shade of not-quite-white.

At the risk of stating what ought to be painfully obvious, computers are primarily meant to be useful things, not objects d'art.  If I can't see the information on the screen, if I have to read the (non-existent) manual to figure out what to do when "An unknown error has occurred" then it does me precious little good that it looks beautiful and slim.

Of course, the ideal machine is both useful and beautiful.  But if you have to choose one or the other, beautiful is optional.  Useful isn't.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Yeah, they trashed a brilliant UI I could use for a dumb and elegance thats shit. I am legally blind and did UI work during the early mac days. Apple has not updated Zoom in ten years; voiceover is not a one size fits all answer either. Apple rather chooses to be reactive by waiting to hear how many people it pissed off; rather than Steve's demanding attention to detail. I have come to hate apple. I had to fight apple to exchange my non4k to a 4k just to see the tiny grey fonts! Many deves are not willing to think outside the walled garden. Btw, there is no accessibly section under the deve apple forums.